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Are We Trying Too Hard To Be Happy?

Updated on January 6, 2014

Yes! I'm Happy!!!!

 Photo by stockimages at
Photo by stockimages at

Since I have been suffering from anxiety, depression and grief for quite awhile, I have been on a rampage of reading everything I can on all those topics. I guess I am looking for that magical solution to ease all my pain, which of course, doesn't exist. A lot of what I've read has helped, so it was worth it. It comforted me or gave me some ideas to work with. Did I find the magic formula to end all those feelings? No, of course not.

Then I became obsessed with reading about how to be happier. This is where things got interesting for me. The more I read about it, and the harder I tried to follow the advice given, the unhappier I became.

I couldn't figure out why this would happen until I started thinking that being happy shouldn't have to be worked at. It's a fine idea to think in a positive manner and try to enjoy each moment or find the good in each day...all that kind of advice is fine and dandy. It can help you to stop being so negative. But shouldn't true happiness just come naturally?

Think of times you were really happy. Were you consciously thinking about being happy or were you just happy? Were you thinking, "aha! Look, I'm happy!" ? I doubt it. You might think about a moment later and remember about how happy you felt, but not at the time it was happening. You're too caught up in the moment.

I may be wrong, but to me that is natural happiness. If I have to force myself to be happy, it doesn't feel right. If I have to constantly remind myself to look for something to lift my spirits, it becomes a chore. Should happiness be hard work? I don't think so.

Another aspect to chasing happiness is that it can make you anxious and depressed. If you keep working on it and you are not any happier, you feel worse. Working so hard on it makes you anxious...failing to accomplish it makes you depressed. Quite the vicious circle.

So, how do we become happier? I will say the one thing I have learned from all my reading on the subject is that gratitude is one tool that has worked. When I feel blue, I say something I'm grateful for. Even if it's small, it counts. It doesn't have to be huge. Anything you are grateful for counts. It can be a simple as, "I'm grateful that it stopped raining" or "I'm grateful that I have this chocolate bar to eat." To be honest, when I first started doing this, I felt kind of...silly, I guess. But amazingly it did lift my spirits and make me smile, which in turn gave me a moment of happiness.

There is one more important thing I learned. It is ok not to be happy. It is ok to be in pain. It's not pleasant or comfortable, but it's ok. When you lose a loved one, you are not going to be happy. You might not be happy for a long time. It would be almost crazy to think you should feel happy instead of all the other (normal) things you are feeling.

That's not to say that in the middle of grieving you can't laugh or feel happy at all. Of course you can and it happens. I think it's the amazing gift given to us by the Universe that sometimes we will feel happiness while grieving. It is a little break that keeps us sane. The same goes for any devastating situation you are in.

Since battling my anxiety/depression/grief situation, I fought hard to stay positive and it was hurting me more than helping me. I was not facing my bad emotions and they have to be faced to be resolved. So I stopped chasing the happiness train (except for my gratitude thing) and in doing so, I found more peace. There are times I feel happy and they come naturally. I'm not driving myself crazy to be happy...I'm just feeling what comes naturally.

I think we all try too hard to be do you feel about it? Let me know in the comment section. I really am interested in your opinions on the subject.

This is how we all want to feel!

 Photo by Stuart Miles at
Photo by Stuart Miles at

This May Be the Best Way to Be Happy!


Do you think you try to hard at happiness?

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    • catgypsy profile image

      catgypsy 4 years ago from the South

      Thanks for stopping by and reading manatita44! Much peace to you too.

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 4 years ago from london

      Interesting and thought-provoking approach. Worth considering and some ponder, I'm sure. Much peace.

    • catgypsy profile image

      catgypsy 4 years ago from the South

      denise, thanks for the comment. Gratitude should come naturally but sometimes we get so wrapped up in the bad stuff, we forget to think about the good and be grateful. It' not our fault always, just that it's hard to feel anything good when you are so down.

      You have a good point, that you appreciate the good days a lot more because of the down days...if we never suffered, I guess we would not really appreciate happiness. Although I'd really like to try that out...haha.

      Thanks for stopping by and joining in on the conversation. So many of us suffer from anxiety and depression! It's good to be able to talk to others about it.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 4 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      I deal with anxiety and depression, and I have had similar experiences to what you are telling about here. I had to give myself permission to have down days, and let myself feel those emotions so that I could resolve the issues that I was facing. I also found that when I am happy, gratitude happens as a natural part of my happiness. It is the place my heart goes automatically. Now, when I have down days, I appreciate the good days a lot more.

    • catgypsy profile image

      catgypsy 4 years ago from the South

      Eddy, thanks for stopping by!

    • catgypsy profile image

      catgypsy 4 years ago from the South

      bac2basics, I'm so sorry to hear you are in a bad place too. You are so right about telling ourselves that others cope so we should be able to too putting more pressure on definitely does. And it shouldn't because we can't help the way we are feeling. We aren't just being weak or overly emotional, but we feel like others think that of us and it hurts and makes it worse.

      I so hope you feel better soon and am sending you peace vibes! My thoughts are with you.

      Happiness...such a complicated thing really. To be honest, right now I would settle for just calm...I don't even expect to be extremely happy!

      Take care.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

      Such an interesting hub which leaves much food for thought and useful to many I am sure.

      Enjoy your day.


    • bac2basics profile image

      Anne 4 years ago from Spain

      Hi Cat.

      I will try the gratitude thing as I´m not in a good place at the moment either.

      I think not acknowledging why we are anxious and depressed and trying to push things aside and tell ourselves other people cope so why aren´t we makes things worse too . I do this a lot, but we are all different and one persons stress is another´s challenge.

      I have to agree that trying or forcing yourself to be happy is bad, it is something that comes or doesn´t naturally , and while trying to help yourself is good you can´t conjure up happiness.

    • catgypsy profile image

      catgypsy 4 years ago from the South

      Hi KoraleeP! Thanks for stopping by. Yes, the gratitude trick is the best. It's the one thing I found useful in all the information I was reading! And, yes, laughter is the best medicine.

    • KoraleeP profile image

      Koralee Phillips 4 years ago from Penticton British Columbia Canada

      I don't feel I try to hard to be happy, although I'm sure there have been times in my life where I have.

      What I do is lean towards activities and people throughout the day that make me happy. As well, counting my blessings when I'm starting to feel down helps a lot...It's the best way to start and end the day. When you think of all the things you have to be grateful for, it's hard not to feel happy.

      Of course laughing helps too. I really like Wititudes on Facebook.